Intense pain stabbed at Robin’s mind. The darkness began to lift from his brain as the pain took over. His head throbbed to the beat of his heart. He felt a burning at his ribs. All of his muscles felt stiff and sore. A moan escaped from his lips as he moved.
Cat was by his side the instant she heard him. "Robin? Robin can you hear me?"
Robin opened his eyes just a slit to see who’s voice he had heard. He instantly regretted the move. He screwed them shut again as pain engulfed his head. He moaned out again as he tried to bring his hand up to rub at the pain.
Cat stopped his arm from lifting, "No Robin. Don’t touch it," she scolded.
Robin opened his eyes again with better results. Clearing his long silent throat, "What happened?"
Cat looked at him sheepishly, "You fell down...twice."
Robin looked at her, "Twice!?" he said in a loud voice which he regretted.
Cat could not look at him. She turned her head away and spoke, "Well," she began. "Maybe only once. I sort of dropped you the second time." Then quickly adding, "But the second time it was your horses fault."
Robin slowly closed his eyes, then reopened them, "Are you trying to tell me that it was my horses fault that you dropped me?" still not believing what he had just said.
"Well what Catrina?"
"Well...Oh Robin I’m.."
Robin finished her sentence, "so sorry."
"I am," she said with force. "I didn’t mean to do it. It just sort of happened. I was trying to levitate you back here when your horse distracted me. I lost my concentration and you sort of fell to the ground. And I didn’t mean to dump you off of the log," she said as she got up to start pacing.
"I know you didn’t mean to do it, but really Cat, do you have some sort of death wish for me?"
Cat stopped pacing and looked deep into his eyes, "No!"
"Then what is it? What have you got against me?"
Cat looked into his eyes a moment longer then broke eye contact. She started pacing and gesturing wildly with her arms as she spoke, "I don’t know. I would not hurt you willingly. I could never hurt you on purpose," she told him with emotion and conviction in her voice.
Robin slowly propped himself up on his elbow as he watched her.
"Stuff like this is always happening to me, but I have never hurt another person. I suppose not being around other people has something to do with that. I am a bit of a klutz, but never this...," before she could finish the sentence there was a loud crash.
During her arm gesturing, she knocked over a stack of pots and pans. They crashed to the floor at her feet.
"I’M SICK OF THIS STUPID STUFF ALWAYS HAPPENING TO ME AND SOMEBODY HAD BETTER DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT!" she screamed at Robin as she shook a fist in his direction. Her eyes went wide as she realized what she had just done. Burying her face in her hands, she began to cry.
Robin could not believe what he was about to say, "Come here," he said soothingly to her as he painfully sat himself up.
Cat slowly walked to the bed and sat down next to him.
Robin placed his hand on her shoulder, "It will be all right. Don’t you think that that is possibly why I am here? To help you do something about it."
Cat just kept looking down at her hands as they played with a fold in her skirt.
Robin took his hand and placed it under her chin. He raised her head and turned her face to look at him, "I am here to help you any way I can," he said softly.
Cat looked into his eyes and knew that he was telling her the truth. Those deep brown eyes could not lie to her. With a well of emotion building inside of her, she leaned forward and swung her arms wide to hug him. Unfortunately she swung a little too much and hit Robin in the nose with her elbow.
"Ouch!" he said as he put his hand to his face.
Again he stopped her, "So sorry. I know," he said rubbing his nose. "We have to make a deal."
"What kind of deal?"
"If you will try your best to stop hurting me, I will do everything in my power to help you. But Cat, I have to be conscious to do that," he told her giving a slight wink.
Smiling, "Okay, I will try."
It was then that Robin noticed the pendant she wore around her neck. It was a Celtic pentacle and in the center was a serpent-wrapped staff. "That’s a caduceus symbol isn’t it?" he said referring to the serpent and staff.
Looking down, "Yes it is. I’m surprised you know what it is."
"I know that it is the symbol of a healer or healthcare giver. It is a good thing that you are a healer given your history," he told her smiling impishly. "I’m glad you can fix what you break."
Her face broke out in a huge grin, "We all do what we can." With that, Cat got up and got Robin a cup of the tea that had been brewing over in the fireplace.
"I want you to drink all of this. It has nourishment as well as healing herbs," she said as she handed him the cup.
Smelling the hot liquid, Robin said, "It smells good. Most of what Friar Tuck gives me smells like a dead carcass had been in the sun a little too long."
Cat laughed, "I figured that if I have to drink it, it had better taste good. Once you have finished that, I want you to lie back down and rest. Your body needs the time to heal itself. Sound sleep is the best thing for you right now," she ordered.
Robin blew across the top of the tea to cool it. Once he had finished it, a wave of dizziness washed over him. "Is there something in this tea that you did not tell me about?" he said as he tried to shake off the dizziness.
"I may have put something in there to help you sleep."
The dizziness became a heaviness in Robin’s head. He tried to fight against it, but it was a losing battle. His upper body slowly lowered to the bed. A sweet darkness engulfed his mind as he lost consciousness. His head rolled the side and lay still.
"He sleeps," she sighed smiling as she looked down at the dashing man.
Very happy, Cat prepared a bed for herself in a corner and fell asleep.
The next day, Robin felt more like himself. The pain in his head and side had dulled to an ache. When he woke he found that Catrina was already up. She was bent over a pot by the fireplace.
"Good morning," he said in a deep morning voice.
"Good morning. How are you feeling?" she asked cheerily.
"Much better, thank you. How are you this morning?"
"I’m fine thanks. I was just making us some breakfast. Are you hungry?"
"Yes I am," he said as he sat up and swung his long legs over the side of the bed.
"Uh, where is my tunic?" he asked as he just noticed that he was undressed to the waist.
"It’s over there on the chair. I mended the tear in it this morning. Your belt is on the table by the bed."
Robin knew it was silly, but he felt a little uncomfortable being half nude in front of her. He got up and fetched his tunic and belt. Turning his back to her, he laced up his tunic. Once fully dressed he was more at ease. "Are you ready for a day of good hard learning?"
"Yes I am. I’m really going to try to concentrate," she said as she filled a bowl of porridge for Robin. Being very careful, she crossed the small room to where Robin was sitting. She was so intent on not spilling the bowl that she didn’t watch where she was stepping, right on Robin’s left foot.
"Ow!" he called out once more.
Startled, Cat let the bowl slip from her hand. It fell and dropped directly on Robin’s right foot. Breaking as it hit and spilling porridge all over his foot and pant leg. Cat stepped back, mortified at what she had just done.
Holding his left foot in his hands, he looked down at his right leg. He just shook his head and began to chuckle. The chuckle became a laugh. It was a hearty, full laugh that he could not stop. It wasn’t really funny, but after the last day, he had to find the humor in it.
Cat just stared at him. As his laugh became fuller she could not help being infected by it. Both of them laughed until their sides hurt and tears fell from their eyes. Composing herself a little she said, "Robin, I’m so sorry."
That only made Robin laugh harder.
It was a good five minutes before either one of them could compose themselves enough to speak.
"I think I know what the problem is?" he said still chuckling.
"You are trying too hard. You have got to try to relax. The rest will come."
Becoming serious, "I don’t know if I can relax...around you."
"Why? Do I make you feel uncomfortable?" he asked confused.
"No just the opposite."
"Okay, now I really am confused. Please explain."
"I don’t know if I can explain it, but I can show you."
"Show me what?" he asked warily. Nothing could have prepared him for what she did next.
Quickly walking up to him, before she lost her nerve, she took his face in her hands. Then she planted a deep, long, wet kiss right on his mouth. When she finally let go of his lips she felt dizzy. Managing to say only one word, "Wow!"
Robin blushed three shades of red. He never could get used to the way women, any woman, reacted to him. He just didn’t see what they saw. "Uh, Cat, that is very flattering, but..."
She interrupted him, "I know, you’re taken. Your heart belongs to another," she said sadly.
"Yes it does. I do love another woman. But that does not mean that we can’t be very good friends," he told her trying to lighten the mood.
"Friends huh." She thought for a moment then cheered up. "Well I suppose that will have to do. If I can’t have you one way, then I will take you any way I can." With a twinkle in her eye she said, "Well at least I got to find out just how good you taste."
Robin blushed again. He shifted nervously in his chair.
Cat turned and left him to squirm in the chair. She got a rag to clean the porridge off of Robin. Returning to him, she knelt down in front of him.
Feeling completely awkward, "Please, I can do that myself."
"Oh no, it’s my mess so I get to clean it up," she said happily. Using a little more muscle than necessary, she pressed his pant leg up against his skin. She knew exactly what she was doing. She could feel his solid, muscular leg beneath the fabric. She made the job much more tedious than it needed to be, but if this was the only way she could touch him, then so be it.
Finally she was done, "Okay, all finished. Just as good as new," she beamed.
Robin closed one eye and looked at her sideways, "Thank you."
They finally had breakfast and then went to work.
In the days that were to follow, Robin sustained several more blows, cuts, and scrapes. Toward the end of his stay, he was hurt less each day. Robin took each blow in stride. Always thinking in the back of his mind, "Olwyn, you really own me one for this."
Cat seemed to improve her concentration and skills each day. Robin saw the change in her. She was more graceful and confident each time she achieved a difficult magic spell or maneuver. It was the seventh day that they had been together when Robin decided that it was time for him to leave. Olwyn had been right. It was obvious.
"Cat, I will be leaving tomorrow. You have come a long way and do not seem to need my help any longer."
Stunned, Cat opened her mouth to speak but nothing came out. Her heart felt like it would break. She loved Robin, but had also become fond of him as a friend. She would miss him so much. He was familiar to her now. That was something she had not experienced in a long time. To have a companion.
Robin knew that he made her unhappy by his words, but it could not be helped. He had to get back to Sherwood, his home. Trying to help, he said, "Maybe you can come to Sherwood for a visit some time. I would love you to meet some of my other friends."
Hearing the words "other friends" eased some of the burden from her heart. She perked up a little. He always could find the right thing to say to make her happy. He was such a wonderful man, inside and out.
"Shall we get back to your practicing?" he asked her.
"Couldn’t we just sit and talk for a while?"
"Sure. What do you want to talk about?"
"Would you tell me about Sherwood? I would love to hear what it is like there. That way I can picture it and look forward to a visit some day."
Robin began to paint her a word picture of his life in Sherwood. He told her about some of the adventures he and his friends had been on. He felt at ease talking to her now. It was so different from his first few days with her. She truly was his friend now. Maybe even a little like a younger sister. Because he felt this way, he got up the nerve to ask her a question.
"May I ask you a question?"
"When you first met me, you had a particular reaction. What is it about me that makes women react that way?"
Cat laughed as she looked at Robin, "You’re kidding right?"
Robin’s brow furrowed, "No I’m not."
"Oh Robin, you really don’t know do you?" she said very surprised.
"No. That is why I asked. I really don’t have many women "friends" who I could ask this question. It has always been a curiosity to me."
"First off, have you seen you?" she asked laughing. Not waiting for an answer she continued, "You are gorgeous! Everything about you is absolutely fantastic. The beauty goes from the top of your head down to your toes."
Robin looked down at his boot covered feet then back at Cat. His eyes shown total ignorance of the fact that he was fabulous.
"The fact that you don’t know this makes you all the more attractive. The beauty is not only on the outside, but the inside too. You are the most gentle, kind, perceptive, caring, giving, romantic, sensual man I have ever met. Do you understand why I kissed you now?"
"I’m not sure."
Cat continued to try to explain, "When I met you I felt like I wanted to care for you, yet have you protect me. I wanted to "be" with you. To touch you, caress you, taste..."
Robin blushed as he stopped her, "I get the point," he said as he rolled his eyes.
"Everything about you just oozes sexuality. To put it plainly, women want you."
"But I don’t do anything to encourage it," Robin stressed.
"That is just the point. I suppose it would be different if you chased women. Maybe that would lessen your appeal. But I really don’t see you doing that. It is just not in you. You are Robin Hood. Live with it."
"When you put it that way, I guess I’ll have to." Thinking for a moment Robin finished, "I suppose there are worse things to have to live with," he said with a dimpled grin.
Cat looked at him softly. She really was going to miss him when he was gone. Clearing her throat she said, "Thank you for your help Robin. I could not have done it without you. Also, I’m sorry for all of the things that I did that hurt you. I really didn’t mean to injury you."
"Don’t think another thing about it. I survived, just barely, but I survived," he kidded her.
Cat looked at his battered body sympathetically. He had bruises, scrapes and bandages covering the deep cuts all over him. He had put up with so much from her. With conviction in her heart, she vowed that she would become the best sorceress she could be.
The day ended without event.
The morning came all to swiftly for Cat. They ate breakfast in complete silence. Cat just could not face the fact that he was leaving.
Robin packed his belongings and saddled his horse. As he finished cinching the last strap, Catrina came up behind him.
"Well Robin..." she stopped to try to hold back the tears.
Robin turned to face her. He felt a tug at his own heart. Although he would not miss the pain, he would miss her.
Holding out his arms to her he said, "If you promise to try not to hurt me..."
Cat ran into the strong arms and their embrace.
She held on to him for all she was worth, "Take care of yourself Robin."
"I will. You keep up the practice and never lose confidence in yourself."
The embrace was ended and Robin mounted his horse.
Cat waved goodbye as Robin Hood rode into the forest.
She confirmed to herself to keep her vow and make Robin proud of her.
It was dusk before he reached the gates of the outlaw camp. A horn blew and the gate of trees opened so Robin could enter.
Marion and Little John were at the dinner table eating when they saw Robin ride through. They just looked at each other when they saw what condition he was in.
Getting up, they both walked over to the stable where Robin had stopped.
"What happened to you?" Little John asked.
Robin did not answer. He felt a little embarrassed that such a small woman had done such damage.
"Come on Robin, what happened?" Marion prodded.
Robin turned to look them in the eyes, "Let’s just say a 5’2" favor for Olwyn." With that, Robin grabbed his saddlebag and began to walk to his hut.
Little John and Marion were left a little dumbfounded. Taking only a few seconds to look at each other, they rushed after Robin with a ton of questions.
Robin smiled to himself. He was home and everything was back to normal.
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